At least 20 percent of U.S. adults, at some point in their lives experience a significant difficulty in hearing. These challenges can compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational, and recreational aspects of life. Ever since 1927, The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) has designated May as Better Speech and Hearing Month. It is a time to raise public awareness of the hearing and speech-language disorders that affect over 14 million Americans. Every May ASHA helps spread a hopeful, positive message about communication disorders—and the important role of the professionals who treat them. This year is no different, with the theme of “Communication Across the Lifespan. ”
Hearing Loss Across the Life Span
According to the Center for Hearing Loss and Communication, 48 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, which can begin at birth or develop at any age. For example, hearing loss can be present at birth or develop over time and effect adults who use their voices a lot in their jobs, such as teachers and performers. ASHA supports a wide range of research to help develop effective diagnostic and treatment strategies relevant to communication throughout the lifespan.
One of the most common communication disorders in older adults is hearing loss, affecting approximately one in three adults ages 65 to 74, and nearly half of those older than 75. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and loss of connection from family, friends, and the community. Although hearing aids and other assistive devices can improve quality of life, only about one in four adults (age 20 and over) who could benefit from hearing aids have ever used them.
Knowing the Signs Of Hearing Loss
Before you can seek treatment for hearing loss, you must first accept that you have a condition hindering your communication. Most cases of hearing loss develop gradually so the symptoms are often difficult to recognize. Some clear signs of hearing loss include;
- – You believe people are mumbling
- – People often complain that your television or radio is turned up too loud
- – Difficulty in hearing someone calling from behind you
- – Difficulty communicating in small groups of people
- – Communication difficulties in noisy environments
- – A frequent need to ask people to repeat themselves
- – Difficulties in hearing the doorbell or the telephone ringing
- – Family, colleagues and friends suggest you might be suffering from hearing loss
- – You have to lip read the people who talk to you
- – You feel that you must really concentrate to hear someone talk or whisper
The Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss
If you experience these signs of hearing loss, you may feel that your social life is suffering too because of hearing and communication difficulties. You may even be tempted to avoid social gatherings and other social situations where misunderstandings become common. This can put a real strain on your relationships with friends, family and even your spouse. Hearing loss often leads to poor performance at work, causing your earning power to plummet and employers to values you less. Ultimately these communication difficulties can lead to isolation and depression, and there is even a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia.
The Benefits of Treatment
Fortunately, hearing loss is treatable. According to the Better Hearing Institute, 95 percent of Americans with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids and individuals who treat their hearing loss early have shown significant benefit. Hearing aids help process incoming sound making it easier for your brain to understand them. With the modern innovations of hearing aids today they are more user friendly than ever before and designed to work with your lifestyle. There has never been a better time than now to need hearing aids, and, in the future, the innovative features of hearing aids will only be more affordable.
If you suspect you have hearing loss use this May’s Better Speech and Hearing Month as a call to action. At Hearing Consultants, we can help. Contact us to set up a hearing test. Hearing tests are quick and painless and can confirm whether or not you have a hearing loss. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!